Be Happy, Be Kind, Kindness, Love, Loyalty, Married to My Best Friend, Relationships, Togetherness, Uncategorized, Weddings

My Royal Wedding

Watching the wedding of Harry and Meghan this weekend really made me think about weddings and relationships.  I’ve never been a fan of big weddings because I feel like it takes away from what the true meaning should be. It shouldn’t be a production or a show, but sweet and personal.  Big weddings are usually beautiful and all, but it just isn’t my thing.

My own wedding to Al two and a half years ago was perfect…..for us.  We had both been through some pretty dark times with our health and other relationships.  The combination of the two of us going through so much separately, and then facing some rough times together, showed us that we are much stronger together, and that it really is a great thing to go through life with your best friend.  There we were in a park in New Orleans, with a minister, his wife, a few squirrels, and the beauty of nature all around us.  No, not in a church, but it felt pretty heavenly in that setting!  My emotions were in full swing!  Yes, I cried through the whole thing!  Happy tears!  Tears of joy!  I was so happy, and feeling every vow we spoke, coming straight from our hearts.  No choir, no family, no bridesmaids, groomsmen, no flower girls, no ring bearers, no friends, and no added stress.  It was all about us, and making our promises to each other…..no other fuss.  We even got a little laugh in when the minister asked if anyone had any objections….”speak now, or forever hold your peace,”……….no, not even the squirrels could deny us this happiness!  Neither of us were a bit nervous.  We knew we were doing the right thing, and the timing was finally right for us.

Big weddings, small weddings,  weddings in a church, on a cruise ship, a wheat field, a judge’s office, a forest, a castle……it doesn’t matter.  Whatever works for you, and how you want to handle it, is all that matters.  What happens afterwards is really where it counts!  My children have accepted Al, and love him for how happy he makes me.  He loves my children, and I love his too.  As long as we are happy, and are there for each other “in sickness and in health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer,” protecting and defending each other through anything and everything, then it can work, no matter what obstacles.  There are days when I actually think back about those vows, and how I meant every word of them.  My marriage and my loyalty and love for Al mean more every day.  I try to spoil him as much as I can because I always want him to know that he deserves the best I have to give.  And he’s pretty good about returning that, by spoiling me too.

We may not have a castle, or a lot of money, but we have each other, and we are blessed to have that. Love, laughter, selflessness, sincerity, and true friendship……that is what really matters…..til death do us part.

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Be Happy, Be Kind, Comfort, Family, Kindness, Mother, Mother's Day, Relationships, Uncategorized

Celebrating Our Mothers

Mother’s Day….that bittersweet day for those of us who no longer have a mother here on Earth.  It’s a beautiful thing to celebrate our mothers….even if they are no longer with us.  There are also mother figures we can celebrate.  No one can ever take the place of our mothers, but we should consider ourselves blessed to have female friends who are there to love, guide, and protect us.

I have several female friends who I know I can reach out to for advice, a good laugh, a cry, or just to vent, and I love them for that.  They’ve come into my life at different times, when I had different needs, but they’ve remained….as part of my circle of support. They live all over the country, but I know I can pick up the phone right now, and they would be there for me.  We may have sisters, aunts, or cousins who can also be mother figures to us.

What about the single fathers out there who have no partner to help?  They deserve to be recognized as well, for being both mother and father!

While I’ve never met my ex husband’s current wife, and I doubt we would be friends, I am grateful that she seems to love and care about my children.  I know that I am their mother, and no one will ever replace me.  But why would I deny my children the opportunity of receiving more love and friendship?  Just as my husband is a very loving, supportive friend to my children, we are secure enough to know we can’t be replaced.  The more love for them, the better! You can never have enough, and my children deserve that!  But I will always be the only mother they have.

So yes, this holiday is a little rough for me.  I do the best I can, even though there are always a few tears, while I miss my mama.  I will get through it, and I will enjoy hearing from my three “babies” that day.  It’s a day worth celebrating, and showing the women in our lives how much we appreciate them.  Let’s celebrate the women we love (and who love us) this Mother’s Day….our mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, step-mothers, friends…..whether they are still with us or not……whether they have children of their own or not.  The nurturing we do for one another is priceless.

To all of my female friends and family…..happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

Art, Be Happy, Crawfish Festival, Happiness, Life Happens.....Make the Best Of It!, Misconceptions, Pensacola, Pensacola Lighthouse Museum, Thankfulness, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Appreciating Your Surroundings

It sure was a beautiful weekend here last weekend!  Because I’ve been really stressed lately, I needed the weekend in a big way!  Al and I don’t get to see each other for more than a couple of hours each day during the week because of our work schedules, and sometimes he works on Saturdays, so it felt like we hadn’t really had a chance to talk about much lately.  We spent Saturday downtown, where it seemed that everyone and their dog  were also out and about (seriously…..there are dogs EVERYWHERE downtown, and I love it!)!  It was busy with graduations, the Crawfish Festival, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, farmers’ market, and  people out just enjoying the beautiful weather!  It was nice to see so many people enjoying the festivities.

We walked, and talked a lot, and of course, when we are together, there’s always a lot of laughter and affection.  We started by cruising through the farmers’ market, which is weekly, and we have a our favorite vendors we like.  We sat at the Crawfish Festival, listening to the music, watching the people, talking to new people, and enjoying the food.  There was an abundance of delicious items, besides the “mudbugs” (crawfish, for those of you who aren’t familiar with that term)….shrimp, alligator, oysters, shark, chicken, gumbo, etouffee, rice and beans, paella, etc.  Then we walked through downtown, and stopped off at a few places along the way, just enjoying each other’s company.

This part of Florida has a hillbilly reputation…..some of it earned, but some of that label is unfair.  Pensacola has rich history.  Did you know that it even predates Jamestown and St. Augustine?  We have historical museums, art museums, the Naval History Museum and Lighthouse, Fort Pickens (where Geronimo was held when our government was relocating/imprisoning Native Americans), GREAT food, dolphin cruises, fishing excursions, entertainment, and shopping…..oh, and don’t forget the beautiful beaches (some of the best in the world), and water sports.  Every weekend, all year long, it seems that there is some sort of festival going on (usually free) from Destin to Pensacola.  Whether it’s seafood, art, jazz, Gallery Night, or a cultural festival, there always seems to be something happening, and you can experience it on a budget.  We also have minor league baseball and hockey teams.

No, we aren’t Miami or New York, but that’s okay.  If we wanted that, we could go there.  Those places are fun to visit, and have great energy, but the pace of life here is a lot more agreeable to our lifestyle now.  We have what we need, and enjoy our peace and quiet as well.  We can relax on the beach, or stay busy in town.  We can appreciate our life here, and make the most of what it offers.  We love good weather, and we have over 300 days of sunshine a year…..as Al says, “You can’t beat that!” I’ve been fortunate to live in a lot of different places in my life, and I have appreciated each one for everything it offers.  Take the time to learn about your surroundings.  Appreciate the history, food, culture, and weather.  Even though I have to deal with the lizards, frogs, snakes, and bears, I do like it here, and I get to be here with my best friend.  Will we stay here forever? Who knows?  But for now, this works for us.

 

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Coping, Do something, Doing your best, Happiness, Uncategorized

I’m Doing the Best I Can

Well, it’s spring break, and it’s been a bit of a different kind of week off for me.  Usually, I spend spring break with a few days at the beach, a lot of cleaning and organizing, and my youngest daughter comes to visit if she can get a few days off from school.  Well this year…..the planets are aligned differently I guess. It’s been nice, but different.  I’ve had another doctor’s appointment (ugh!), with yet another adjustment to my meds.  I’ve been to the farmer’s market with my husband, and to a couple of local museums (you just can’t beat buy one get one free coupons!).  We’ve fixed a television and a toilet.  I’ve studied for, and passed, another three hour test for my post licensing real estate course.  I’ve rested a lot.  I’ve scared a snake……he scared me first.  I’ve been annoyed with Facebook and the data breach.  I’ve watched a lot of television shows that I enjoy.  I’ve tried to organize a few things around the house.  That’s a slow process, but I’ll get there…..maybe.  Otherwise, you might find me on an episode of Hoarders!  Just kidding!  I’m not anywhere near that….yet!  So I”ve been able to get a few things accomplished, while relaxing.  Nothing exciting at all, but I’m doing the best I can, and it’s exactly what I need.

I used to think that needing to be busy and doing something was important for the time off from work.  And it is….but that something may involve just going for a walk to get fresh air, or watching movies and relaxing, or reading a book.  Teachers work hard.  I spend an hour and a half in the car every day for a commute.  I’m enjoying the peace and quiet away from my busy, lovable 1st graders!  Besides, having a chronic illness has forced me to make changes.  I’m not missing out on life, but I do have to adjust! Even though my activity level has changed, the week off still seems to be flying by! But part of me still feels like I should be doing something.

Part of these lifestyle changes have involved a bit of guilt.  I feel like I screw up fun for other people.  I can’t have things too loud.  I get tired easily.  I need to hold onto things or people for balance.  I feel dizzy and light headed most of the time….some people will say it matches my personality! And my head hurts!  I may not be the life of the party, but if you tell me to walk across a room unassisted, I am the party!  I’ve never been one to need to be the center of attention because of an intense social anxiety problem, but I’ve always enjoyed being out and about, and doing things.  I like meeting people in the right setting.  I like learning about people, and new places.  So making lifestyle changes is hard.  I would guess it would be similar to trying to eat healthier, exercise more, or stop smoking or drinking. Those seem to be pretty common and relatable, and we need to support anyone who is just doing the best they can.  Have you ever been out to eat with someone who is on a diet?  Or at a party where alcohol is being served with someone who is struggling to stop drinking?  It’s hard for them, but we support them.  They’re doing the best they can.  That’s all we can ask of them.  No guilt.

So I guess I need to stop putting guilt on myself, and remind myself daily that I’m doing the best I can…..that’s doing something.  No one else is going through exactly what I’m going through.  Sure, other people have had this condition, and I’m so grateful to my friends who are there for me to answer my questions (especially my friend Karen from college!).  But no one knows what I deal with daily, just as I don’t know what they deal with.  I would assume that everyone is just doing the best that they can, no matter what their circumstances.  That’s all we can ask of each other.

If I’m grumpy, it might be my best for that day.  If I’m sleepy, it might be my best.  If I’m goofy, it might be my best.  If I seem fine, it might be my best.  If I want to walk around a quiet museum, it might be my best.  If I’m confused or in pain, it might be my best.  I have to stop allowing myself (and others) to make me feel like I’m lazy or rude or not pulling my weight if I am unable to do more.  So this week, what might seem like a mediocre, boring spring break to others is my best, and it’s exactly what I need for me.  If we are all doing our best, then we should all get along just fine, right?  How about we all do our best for support, understanding, and not judging what we don’t understand.  I promise it won’t cost a thing, and it might make life a lot easier.  Do your best for you, and don’t feel guilty for it.  That’s doing something.

 

Art, Be Happy, Clutter, Collecting, Decorating, Eclectic, Happiness, Uncategorized, Unique Personalities

Is It Clutter, Or Is It You?

Our brains and minds and lives are full of stuff we don’t need.  The world is full of information and stuff.  Clutter.  Does it do us any good? Is it comforting?  I have been able to trim things down and get rid of things that I felt held no sentimental value.  But what is considered to be clutter to some may be someone else’s whole life.  I’ve watched the show Hoarders, and am glad I am not attached to paper bags and broken pencils, but I’m sure some people wonder why I have some of the things I have! Now that I’ve said that, I am in no way a hoarder! I do know a few people who I feel may have a problem with “collecting,” but that’s not me.  Getting through my house is very easy!

At one point in my life, I had a 2800 square foot Victorian home, built in 1886, with beautiful woodwork, leaded and stained glass windows, pocket doors, tall ceilings, etc.  It was full of big furniture, and since I had three children living with me at the time, it was also full of toys and games.  I wouldn’t trade those memories of my children for anything, but I never want to have a big house, or that much stuff, ever again.  I’ve downsized, and de-cluttered, and now live in a smaller (1700 sq. ft.) home.  It’s a “cookie cutter” home, but we’ve made it ours with our unusual style of decorating and things that mean a lot to us.  From where I sit right now, I see the American flag from my father’s memorial service, that belongs to my son. I also see the American flag that flew at my grandparents’ home in China in the 1930’s.  Things like that are priceless because they can never be replaced, holding so much sentiment.  I also see a cabinet with some of my old toys and dolls,  and some of my grandmother’s and mother’s dolls.  Again….most of those things can’t be replaced.  They are worth nothing to anyone else. There’s the piggy bank my Grandpa Penry gave me when I was 4…..and my Grannie Slater’s salt and pepper shakers…..my first Barbie…..my Raggedy Ann……a few old Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars…….I have very specific memories of most of these things.  They’re put away nicely and neatly in my cabinet……..not worth much monetarily, but they mean a lot to me.  Over in the corner is my Grannie’s chair that used to sit in her dining room, next to her telephone…..I can see her sitting there, talking to various relatives or neighbors…..I also remember standing on it to call my sister to help me with a mouse when I was at Grannie’s alone (she didn’t help me…..something about not wanting to drive all the way across town to pick up a dead mouse!  Sheesh!).  Family.  History.  There are pictures everywhere……the kids, our parents, grandparents, places we’ve visited, the park where we were married in New Orleans……there can never be too many pictures! We also have a ton of books….I’ve had to clear out a few of those too, but many belonged to our parents, my grandparents, and even great grandparents.  Some are treasures from places we’ve lived or visited…..more memories.

These things are not clutter to us.  They are our lives, our loves.  I don’t need the latest gadgets in the kitchen, my furniture is old (and comfy), I have some older pieces of furniture that belonged to my parents, that I’ve painted or refinished.  Our cars are not new (and not paid for!), but we have our little treasures. Al’s collection of African masks in the hallway, along with the wall of family photos, remind us each day how diverse and eclectic our tastes are.  But they represent us, and who and what we love.

Our home will never look like a designer showcase home.  I wouldn’t want it to.  I watch the home decorating/renovating shows, and get a few ideas, but I would never want our home to look like everyone else’s.  While Pinterest is interesting, and has some really pretty decorating ideas, those ideas will look like everyone else’s house.  I’m sure people come into our house and wonder what in the world they have stepped into…..but they can never come away from our house saying it’s boring!

Having a home like this also reflects our personalities.  Have you ever been in a home that is stark and boring with no character?  Nothing personal?  To me, this usually indicates a boring personality too!  What do you like?  Where have you been?  Where do you come from?  Do you love your family?  Your friends?  Your life?  My husband and I definitely have unique personalities!  We love to have fun, travel, and make new memories.  We are building our life together, and bringing our happy times from the past along for the ride.  The places we’ve lived and have visited….the people we’ve met, and have loved…..have made us who we are today.  Why wouldn’t we want our home to reflect that?  Why shouldn’t our home be uniquely ours?  We are unique.  Our story is unique.  Our home is our sanctuary, and where we share our life together. It’s us.  But stuff isn’t what makes us happy.  We have all we need.  If we lost it all tomorrow, but still had our health and each other, we could still be happy.  Some people never learn this.  They just want more stuff.

Make your home yours.  Your “clutter” is unique to you.  And if it’s in your heart, or part of who you are, is it really clutter?  Or is it really you?  It may be just stuff to some, but don’t let anyone tell you that it holds no value if it’s part of you. If it is comforting to you, and if it holds memories or sentimental value to you, then be proud of it.  Enjoy your clutter” if you love it!

 

Be Happy, Happiness, Love, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day

Love Is In the Air

Well, tomorrow is another Valentine’s Day, and I have seen the retailers trying to cash in for several weeks now.  It’s really getting bad with the pressure to give just the right thing……or give to the right person, just because the commercials tell us we must.  While I really do love this special day, and what it represents….LOVE…..I don’t feel like anyone should feel pressure to “out give” or keep up with someone else when it comes to gift giving.  I also hate how it makes others feel left out or unloved if they don’t have a significant other.  That really isn’t fair.  I have been in that situation, and I believe it’s also called, “Singles Awareness Day.”   Funny, but kind of not.

Sure, every woman wants flowers.  I will take flowers any day of the year!  Fortunately, my husband brings me bouquets of flowers pretty often.  But I am just as happy with a sweet card, a favorite treat (usually Hot Tamales), or a nice dinner out.  I don’t need jewelry.  I don’t need huge bouquets of flowers delivered to work (although that is fun sometimes!), and I don’t need a new outfit.  More than anything, I appreciate the time I get to spend with my husband, because this time of year, he is so busy with his referee schedule that I barely see him.  I appreciate that he’s a hard worker, but he really is burning the candle at both ends, and it worries me a bit for his health. Having said that, he will be refereeing tomorrow night, so our Valentine’s Day dinner date will have to wait until the weekend.  It’s okay…I’m pretty sure I will still love him by then, if not more!

Valentine’s Day has become so expensive, but also cheapened in how it is approached.  You should buy cards and gifts for those you love because you want to, not because you feel obligated to.  The same can be said about Christmas….it’s become all about money.  Don’t spend money because the commercials and stores tell you that you have to! With the way our society is, and how busy and preoccupied we are with work, family, technology, and social media, why not give the one you love your undivided attention, and write a nice letter telling them how much you love and appreciate them?  Spend time making a romantic dinner.  Go for a walk together.  Turn down the lights, put on some soft music, and dance together. Go for a drive.  Those things can’t wear out.  Those moments can’t be thrown away.  Make memories with each other.

I know that at this point in my life, I try to make a special effort to let my Valentine know how I feel about him every day of the year.  Cards don’t have to wait until a special day.  Candy and flowers don’t have to wait until a special day.  Make every day count, and don’t take each other for granted…..sounds cliche’, but it does hold value.  Make this a great Valentine’s Day, and then make the day after that another great day of love!  And the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that! Love is in the air!

“Live every moment, Laugh every day, Love beyond words.”

 

Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Courage, Family, Happiness, Iowa, Laughter, Love, Marshalltown, Iowa, Passion for Living, The Queen of Iowa, Uncategorized

Here’s To The Queen!

I’d like to tell you about The Queen……not the Queen of England, but The Queen of Iowa!  You didn’t know there was one, did you?  This queen is someone I’ve had in my life since I was 19 years old, and has been like a second mother to me, even though I don’t get to see or talk to her much anymore.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately…..

Joan Yvonne Wendt Williams…..The Queen.   I will get to why she has that title later, but for now, I want to tell you why she deserves it.  Joan was my mother in-law for 23 years, and is the grandmother to my children.  In fact, I was the one who made her a grandmother for the first time in 1989!  Her son and I may not see eye to eye on much of anything, and the divorce strained the whole family relationship, but I still consider her my family, especially since I’ve lost my own mother.  When you lose your mother, you lose a huge part of yourself. And when you divorce, you also lose another part of your family.

From the first time I met her in 1984, wearing my bathing suit (aghhh!), she was friendly, warm, and loving, and acted like she had known me my whole life.  For the first few years of knowing her, she was in an unhappy situation with her marriage.  Through hard work, she came through it on the other side, stronger, more independent, and happier.  It was hard for her to take that step, but she did it, and she has deserved every day of peace and happiness it has brought her since. She stood up for me several times in some uncomfortable situations during that time period, and I have never thanked her for that, even though I appreciated it so much.  I’m not even sure she would remember doing it because it is so second nature for her to do that sort of thing.

She was raised in a small town in Iowa, married young, as most girls did in the late 1950’s, and raised 4 children.  She lost a child shortly after birth, which I know is still painful for her.  I’ve been to the cemetery with her a few times to place flowers or pinwheels on her daughter’s grave.  She has talked to me about that time, and I could feel the pain myself through her words, even though she was so strong and composed telling me about it.  This is just one of the few things that made her such a strong woman.

Her own mother in-law, Florence, was a good woman, and was good to her too, but…..difficult.  I knew Florence well, and I always got the feeling that no woman would ever be good enough for her sons.  Yet, with Joan…..any man would be lucky to have her!  Joan told me once that she never wanted to be that type of mother in-law to me.  I feel thankful to her for that.  It sure made life easier!

We grew closer over the years, and always enjoyed having a beer and pizza together.  The laughter and friendship we shared can never be replicated with anyone else, but two of my children are now to the age where they can sit down and enjoy a good drink with their grandma and laugh the way we used to.  She and her oldest daughter, Lisa, used to make a trip to see us about twice a year….once in the fall, and once in the spring, when we lived in Kansas.  Lisa would bring her step daughter sometimes, and always had her dog in tow.  It was fun, but Joan hated driving through the Kansas City traffic before getting to our house!  It stressed her out to no end!  The very first thing she would say after her hugs and kisses all around, was, “I need a beer!”  I tried to be fully stocked on beer when Grandma Joan came to visit!

I will never forget the time I heard my 4 year old daughter say, “Oh damnit!” when she dropped something.  I said, “Lily, we don’t say that.”  She looked at me confused, and said, “We don’t?  Grandma Joan says it!”  Now my own  five year old grandson is repeating Great-Grandma Joan’s salty language that he picked up last summer.  Of course, it isn’t appropriate, but I can’t be mad.  In fact, I think it’s pretty funny……if Joan has taught me anything, it is to not be stuffy and unhappy, even when life is hard.  Learn to laugh and let go.  Don’t be angry.  Smile.  Don’t hold grudges.  Have fun.  Don’t take life so serious.  It’s short, so enjoy it.

These days I hear she enjoys her boxed wine while getting her daily fix of Drew Carey and The Price is Right!  One of my daughters was telling me that Grandma loads up her walker with beer, and meets with friends at the Embers, her retirement apartment building, for “coffee.”  I got such a chuckle out of that!  She has always known how to have a good time!  Whether it’s playing bingo, trips to the casino, watching her favorite soap opera or TV show, or “coffee” with her friends, she always has fun!

The last time I saw her, I was able to introduce my husband to her.  She hugged him, and told him that if I loved him, then he was okay in her book!  Before we left, she hugged him again, and told him to “take care of my girl.”  He promised he would.  After we left, he said he wished we could have stayed because he could have sat for a few hours, having a few beers and talking with her!  Now that I’m sick, she continues to check with my daughter to make sure Al is taking good care of me…..he is!  I’m stubborn, but he does as much as I let him do.

Now to her well earned title…….The Queen……in most retirement or assisted living facilities, they will choose a king and queen.  I’m not sure what all goes along with the title, but they get to ride in a parade!  Last year, Joan was chosen as Queen of the Embers.  She got to ride in the parade, and from what the kids tell me, she was ordering people to “bow down.”  I can’t help but laugh, because I can picture it!  Recently, a little girl was introduced to The Queen.  She asked if she was the Queen of Iowa, and my daughter told her yes!  And you know what?  She is!  Beautiful, funny, kind, gracious, friendly, salty, and compassionate……what other qualities do you need in a queen?

Here’s to The Queen!  I love you Joan!